Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 6

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 6

Read Romans 8:1-14

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6 KJV

Observation
The Apostle Paul is stating that there are two kinds of people in this world. The ones that are controlled by the flesh (sinful nature) and ones that will follow the (Holy Spirit) guidance of God. Sin only causes us to separate ourselves from God. The more time we spend in worldly situations the more temptations there are to change our mindset. We must always discipline ourselves to avoid these temptations. We must always keep ourselves in the presence of God. By His Grace, He sent his only Son Jesus so we all could separate ourselves from our sinful nature and return to our Lord.

Application
So remember, we must repent daily and spend time with our Father in Heaven. "We must examine our ways and test them, and turn again to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40). We must always be prepared to resist temptation.  Daily we need to protect ourselves by wearing the "whole" Armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Daily we must consciously choose to center our lives on God. Always remember to ask yourself, “What would Jesus want me to do?”

Prayer
Father God, we thank You for who You are!  Strengthen us daily, Father, with Your Presence. We thank You for Your Son Jesus! If not for our Savior, we would all still be in sin. Lord, we thank You for removing our sinful nature and replacing it with Your Holy Spirit!  We can now eagerly and whole heartedly do what we are called to do, by Your grace. Father, You are our center focus. Allow us to always glorify You. In Jesus name, Amen.

David Escarcega, Connection Group Leader + Facilities
North Braddock Campus

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 5

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 5

Read John 16:5-15

“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” John 16:5-7 NLT

Observation
Jesus lets the disciples know that He is leaving the earth to be with the Father and the disciples are grieving. Jesus goes on to let them know that it is better He goes away because when He does He will be sending the Holy Spirit in His place. The Holy Spirit will speak into all of us whatever He receives from Jesus.

Application
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and guide us, as the Spirit leads us in all truth that the Lord speaks through the Holy Spirit into our lives.

Prayer
Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit and guide me with Your wisdom in everything so I may be more like You. Lord, grant me the spiritual eyes and ears to know when Your Spirit is leading me whether it is as evident as the crashing thunder or as peaceful and quiet as a dove. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Ken Saville, Nursery Team
Murrysville Campus

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 4

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 4

Read Galatians 5:16-26

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NLT

Observation
When I read this, I am reminded that as Christians, we are still at war with our flesh, even though we have been redeemed by His blood. Unfortunately, this is a battle that we will face continually in our life. Our flesh will always be with us, and with it, it can bring certain temptations and sins from our life before Christ. Paul is quick to point out that the “flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.” These are strong words and are indicative of the battle we face to continually crucify our flesh. Left unchecked, the flesh will engage in sinful works that are listed in verses 19-21.

Application
When I think about the 3 forces that are against me, desiring to pull me down and away from God: the world, Satan, and my flesh, walking in the Spirit is not an option. It is an activity that I must be engaged in everyday; making a conscious decision to daily seek Him and be led by His Spirit away from old habits, old sins, old patterns of behavior. It’s not as hard as we make it out to be. And it will allow us to enjoy the wonderful fruit that he has promised us: love, joy, peace, long-suffering and self-control, to name a few.

Prayer
Lord, let me understand this scripture in a deeper way, a more profound way, a more meaningful way. Help me to be led by Your Spirit on a daily basis and at the same time help me to crucify my flesh with its passions and desires, so I can enjoy the wonderful fruits of Your Spirit. Amen.

Rob Benedetti, Elder
White Oak Campus

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 3

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 3

Read Acts 1:6-11

...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NASB

Observation
Even the disciples who came together and spoke to Jesus where caught up on the earthly things, the rewards, the redemption, and so on. But Jesus says to them, reminding them “It is not for you to know” It is God’s plan and His timing. When you receive this understanding, with your open heart the Holy Spirit can then come upon you. And that will change you forever.

Application
While loving Him and growing as a follower of Jesus, on a daily basis I find myself asking and praying to God with my set agenda. It’s so easy! And it’s not till praying do I become aware of it. Applying this to my life every day and praying for my highest needs I will teach myself new habits... to rest in Him because the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit and His love, understanding and my faith in Him I shall CHOOSE to let Him lead and let Him tell me His plans. Every day I will do my best to listen close and follow and wait for His timing.

Prayer
Lord, please lead me closer to You! Help me to see clearer. Not of my earthly wants and needs but of what You have given me to be so grateful for. Help me to see what is in front of me and to not look back but to look ahead. Push my focus on You, Lord. Lift my eyes to You, Lord. And blend my thoughts with Yours Lord. Let them no longer be of my own. Amen.

Holly Saville, Nursery Leader
Murrysville Campus

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 2

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 2

Read Isaiah 40:12-31

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:28-29

Observation
In these verses, Isaiah is declaring how amazing our God is! He has no equal and can not compare to anything. He is beyond and greater than what our minds can even imagine. “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary.”

Application
There are so many times in life when my battery is running low and I feel so weak and powerless. I try to do things on my own without God, only to drain myself even more. But to be reminded by these scriptures, that no one can compare to God. No one is greater than He is, and He gives strength to the weak and the powerless. We are not made to do things on our own, we need Him.  In our weak moments we need to remember that our strength comes from Him and with Him we can overcome any situation in our lives. The same power that God functions with, lives within us.

Prayer
God, thank You for the strength that we can find only in You. God, I just pray that You would help us to rely on You more and help us to come to You first when we feel weak. Amen.

Rachel Stephanovic, Connection Group Leader + Worship Team
White Oak Campus

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 1

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Heaven on Earth Devotional: Day 1

Read John 14:15-26

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:23-26 BLB

Observation
There’s no place like home! How amazing that God promises to make a home in us through the Holy Spirit! It’s the kind of home where there is peace, safety and love; where we know we belong and where we have privileges and familiarity that others don’t have. It’s a place where we are taught how to live, and where we are reminded of the example of Jesus’ life. It’s a place where we are never alone.

Application
The more time we spend with God and learn about Him, the more we love Him. When we love Him, we obey Him. When we love and obey Him, the Holy Spirit will live in us. When the Holy Spirit lives in us He teaches us how to be more like Jesus. When we become more like Jesus, we spend more time with Him…and the life-giving cycle continues! God is just so great – He asks us to do something difficult then gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us and help us do it!

Prayer
Thank You for making Your home with me. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for teaching me, comforting me, and filling me with even more love for You. Continue to reveal Yourself to me so I can know You better and love You more.

Cheryl Romanik, Office Manager + Celebrate Recovery Leader North Braddock Campus

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 6

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 6

Read Romans 5:1-11

"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners ." Romans 5:6-8 NLT

Observation
In this passage of scripture the Bible talks about going through trials and tribulations. These trials and tribulations are designed to build our character so that we become more Christ-like. (Trials produces endurance, endurance - strength of character - strength  of character turns into confidence in hope). When we become more Christ-like we are able to forgive others even when they are wrong or we are not at fault simply because that's exactly what Christ did for us. We were and often still are, sinners, yet God/Jesus did not hold that against us and choose to not forgive us. He loves us despite of ourselves and our mess and continues to forgive us daily. Because of this we too should forgive others daily no matter what.

Application
Pastor Shawn always says that, “forgiveness doesn't make you wrong or right, but it frees you.” Don't allow unforgiveness to hold you back from the freedom that Jesus gave to us by dying for our sins. When trying to decide whether or not to forgive someone just think about where we would be if Jesus hadn't forgiven us.

Prayer God, I thank You for the gift of forgiveness. Thank You for forgiving me when I did nothing to deserve it. Father, I pray that You would prick the hearts of Your children who struggle with unforgiveness. I pray that they will be able to find forgiveness for that past hurt, friend, or family member. I pray that they will walk in the freedom that You have destined for us to have. I also pray that you would continue to give us strength to endure the trials of life so that we may continue to become more like You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Brittney Carmona, Production Team
North Braddock Campus

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 5

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 5

Read Ephesians 4:17-32

“That, however; is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24

Observation
Paul is telling the Ephesians that because they are now followers of Jesus, they can no longer live like the Gentiles who shamelessly dwell in their sin. People should be able to see a distinct difference between those who are in Christ, and those who are not. Living the Christian life is a process for us, just as it was for the Ephesians. Although we are made new when we are born again, God is constantly transforming us. If we are not being transformed, then perhaps we are still hanging on to our “old self.” We cannot truly live for Christ if we are living in the past. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18). Sometimes putting on our “new self” may be a daily struggle or process, but Paul says not to be discouraged because even though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Application
This is a good reminder to me that even though I am in Christ, I need to make sure that I am praying and in the Word daily so as to allow God to renew and transform me. If I lose sight of God, it could be easy for me to fall into the ways of the world. Though I may not outwardly behave like them, I will start to think like them; becoming easily angered and unforgiving, holding grudges, and allowing old hurts and bitterness from my past to creep back in. Satan then tries to rationalize these feelings, but I know that this is directly against God’s Word, and therefore, a lie. Every day, I have to invite the Holy Spirit to be with me and guide me so that I can live out my “new self,” the self that was created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But just as he who called you is holy, be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy because I am holy.”

Prayer
Heavenly Father, I pray that You would help us to see the ways that You have transformed us. When we look to our past, let it only be so that we can be more in awe of You and all that You have done in our lives. Continue to renew us day by day, and keep our hearts and minds open to you so that we can live in accordance to Your truth. Lord, help us to completely put off our old self so that when we are in the world, Your light would shine bright through us, and there would be no doubt that we belong to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Kristin Pastor, Nursery Team
Murrysville Campus

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 4

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 4

Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Romans 12:9 ESV

Observation
In Romans 12:9-21, Paul describes things that a true Christian should do. At the top of that list is love. Verse 10 goes on to say that we should love one another with brotherly affection. In this whole section of verses, Paul gives us instructions on how to live and those instructions are framed around love.

Application
We hear much about love in the society we live in today.  We are many times told to "just love everyone." We are told many times by our popular culture that love is all you need in order to be a good person. But what does love really mean? How should a Christian express love?  We need to define what real love is. According to God's Word, our love must be genuine (authentic and sincere) and go beyond just mere abstract or sentimental feeling.  Also, we as Christians must not love but rather abhor (loathe, hate, despise) that which is evil. When we do these things then we can truly love one another in a way that is good according to God's standard.

Prayer
Lord, help us to love You and love one another in a way that is genuine and sincere. By reading Your Word help us to know the things that are good and the things that are evil. Let us hold fast to all that is good and despise all that is evil.

Jeremy Lucas, Creative Team
White Oak Campus

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 3

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GET OUT OF JAIL FREE Devotional || Day 3

Read 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:7-8 NIV

Observation
The first time I read it I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. It seemed a man was in sin and Paul was saying he has been punished enough. Through further reading it’s made clear that the man repented and was needing forgiveness and acceptance.

Application
Paul’s telling us there is a time to confront, and a time to comfort. Isn’t that way the Holy Spirit works in us? When I sin, it just doesn’t sit right. It may for a time, but the Holy Spirit keeps reminding me of it until I repent and ask for forgiveness. Then I get the freedom of His forgiveness. It feels like a weight has been lifted. If you have never experienced that freedom I urge you to acknowledge your sin, repent, ask for forgiveness, and feel the freedom.

Prayer
Lord, show me when to confront and when to comfort. Thank You for the way You love us.

Bob Cole, Connection Group Leader
Murrysville Campu
s

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